I came across an article recently that made me think of stereotypes and why people employ them. Stereotypes are widely held but fixed and oversimplified idea of a particular type of person or thing. It seems we unconsciously employ this kind of thinking to almost every aspect of life: love, work, gender roles even occupation and we use them in relating. Unfortunately, it does not allow us to realize that people are complex beings and there is no simple formula to class them. Even identical twins that wear the same clothes, eat the same food, and even have the same group of friends and do all the same activities are not exactly alike. This week I would like to examine some of the common stereotypes and some of their effects on social relationships.
Enjoy and let us have your comments on the flip side.
The Thing About Stereotypes. Part 1
For some weird reason, even though I have left high school eons ago, I love high school films. The plot is usually simple-usually there’s a hint of romance, parties and students making dumb decisions. But the part that usually thrills me is when one person tries to break the status quo and move outside their perceived stereotypes. You see the nerd who has been shunned by the jocks suddenly becoming a popular person in school. You see that the jock is secretly good in literature. And the Goth like, dark folk actually make great cheerleaders. That’s why I’d always secretly felt stereotyping was so high school! To my chagrin, I have discovered that many people even though they have already finished high school still believe in stereotyping. They take it way past high school and apply it to everybody they meet.
Let’s look at some of the common stereotyping that goes on in high school and examine some of the harmful effects of being classed as such.
Jocks: Are popular guys. Muscular, handsome they are involved in sports and have a lot of girlfriends(or whatever those two week flings are called) especially cheerleaders. The problem about being a jock is that you’re not supposed to be sensitive or emotional or like or be involved in things like literature or drama. So a jock who loves reading hides out because he will not be perceived as cool by his other bodies. Outside high school, jocks can be identified as athletes especially pro basketballers or footballers. The jock is always used to having his way and being worshipped by those around him. A jock doesn’t usually grow into a very mature person.
Nerds-: Often highly intelligent. Usually quiet, with a bizarre sense of humor. Usually does well in school, not popular with opposite sex, usually don’t particularly care about fashion, not exactly socially awkward, but socially rejected because of their obsession with a given subject usually science. Nerds usually grow up to be responsible people who specialize in dealing with complex problems. They can be computer whiz kids or accountants. They do well but their stereotyping makes it difficult for them to make a lot of progress socially because people look at them and think: nerd. Boring! This myopic view makes so called nerds and others who are part of the ‘cool’ crowd miss out on some socially satisfying relationships.
Goths: A Goth is usually snarky, generally angry, socially awkward, obsessed with anything that has a slightly macabre aesthetic. Most likely smokes, expresses self through dark clothing.
Punk-They wear chains and colored mohakws and spiky hair. They wear leather jackets and have always been called rebellious. They also listen to different variations of rock music but mostly punk rock, death metal rock and heavy metal rock.
The thing about both the Goths and the Punks is that they are groups that evolved as a result of rebellion. Rebellion of course is actually a cry for help in some way. They tend to rebel against established authority and social constructs. Some of them are actually depressed and struggling with several issues and they hide this under their stereotypes. If this is allowed to persist to adulthood, the result is that they grow up into becoming dysfunctional people with a pessimistic view of the world and poor social relationships.
The problem about stereotyping in high schools and anywhere else is that people feel compelled to class everyone around them. So a cheerleader is not expected to be interested in the Jet club. And a nerd is not expected to be good in weight lifting. This kind of thinking limits people and sometimes can actually block their paths to becoming all they can be. Unfortunately it’s a vicious cycle. The person is made to see himself the way society has classed him and his behavior just tends to reinforce that stereotype. Yeah, so what was I saying at the beginning? High school films! They’re the best. It’s only in high school films like High School Musical that you see Zac Effron a typical jock basketballer becoming the consummate musician. So why shouldn’t it happen in real life? Let’s take a broader view about the people and personalities around us because stereotyping…is so high school!